Panama reports 4 cases of Zika-related microcephaly

PANAMA CITY (AP) — Health authorities in Panama say they’ve identified four cases of the birth defect microcephaly linked to the Zika virus.

The Health Department’s chief epidemiologist says all four cases occurred among mothers of the Guna Yala indigenous group.

Dr. Israel Cedeno said Thursday that two of the four babies had died.

The Guna Yala Indians inhabit a stretch of low coast along Panama’s Atlantic shore.

In all four cases, either the mother, the baby or both tested positive for Zika.

Panama has had 264 confirmed Zika cases, with 11 in pregnant women.

The mosquito-borne Zika virus can cause microcephaly, a severe birth defect in which babies are born with abnormally small heads.

The phenomenon was first detected in Brazil, where experts say there are nearly 1,200 confirmed cases of microcephaly.